Property Australia

On the road to better wellbeing

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal June 8, 2021

The transport, postal and warehousing industry ranks lowest of any industry for thriving workplaces, but Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds is determined to turn this around.

 

Three key takeaways:

  • Last year, there were around 209,300 truck drivers in Australia, each of them passing through property assets to do their jobs.
  • The average driver works 49 hours a week, according to OzHelp. A sedentary occupation, combined with a poor diet and lack of exercise, puts drivers at risk of obesity, chronic diseases and mental health issues, with truck drivers the second highest occupational group, after construction workers, at risk of suicide.
  • Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds, or HHTS, has launched a free National Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap for the road transport, warehousing, and logistics industries.

 

HHTS is a not-for-profit foundation tackling industry-specific challenges of mental health and wellbeing in the transport, warehousing and logistics industries.

Truck drivers can be on the road for up to 14 hours a day, says HHTS chief executive officer, Naomi Frauenfelder.Naomi Frauenfelder

Workdays are long and deadlines tight. About 97 per cent of drivers are men, and their average age is 47. Fatigue, irregular shifts, being away from family and friends, and the need to be constantly alert can see some drivers turn to alcohol and drug use. Marriage breakdowns are common.

“Transport, postal and warehouse ranked the lowest out of 19 industries in Australia when it comes to thriving workplaces,” Frauenfelder says, pointing to a literature review undertaken by OzHelp which found that Australian heavy vehicle drivers are subject to constant time pressures and a number of other mental health risk factors.

“In 2019, only one in three workers believed their workplace was taking action to improve mental health and wellbeing. COVID just added to the stress of crossing borders and meeting different restrictions.”

In the absence of a national industry approach, Australia Post, Coles, Linfox, Toll, Ron Finemore Transport, Woolworths Group and Qube established the Foundation in August 2020. A $600,000 grant from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has funded the development of the roadmap. Lindsay Fox AC is patron and Paul Graham, managing director Primary Connect and chief supply chain officer of Woolworths, is the chair of Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds. Frauenfelder joined the Foundation in January as its inaugural CEO.

Frauenfelder says the Foundation is focused on three “key pillars”: training, standards and wellness.

Training is being tailored to the unique circumstances of truck drivers and people who work in logistic facilities. A technology working group is developing an app to help truck drivers track their physical and mental wellbeing. Standardisation of policies and procedures will help to alleviate stress, Frauenfelder adds.

Frasers Property Industrial is a partner of HHTS, which CEO Reini Otter says is a “natural fit”.

“Each year we directly and indirectly employ thousands of people working in the industrial industry, including those in the transport, warehousing and logistics supply chain,” Otter says.

“It’s essential we’re actively involved in supporting the wellbeing of these employees and facilitating a healthy work environment.”

Frauenfelder urges other property industry leaders to join the Foundation’s mission. “Creating a safe and healthy workplace means taking care of everyone who comes into contact with it.”

Download the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap for the road transport, warehousing, and logistics industries.

Tags: LEADERSHIP